Renowned author and lawyer Calvin Helin was in Prince Rupert on the morning of Sept. 26 to announce a new company aimed at giving First Nations more control in proposed energy projects.
Speaking to the Gathering of Our Nations conference Helin outlined the formation of Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd., and Aboriginal-owned and controlled company whose purpose is to facilitate First Nations energy projects within their territories.
“Everything that happens in our territory we should own and operate in partnership with non-Aboriginal companies…It is time for us to engage in this, it is time for us to be proactive instead of reactive,” he told the gathering, noting that much of the BC economy is now reliant on the energy sector.
“The corporations need to change their mindset. They take a cookie-cutter approach working with us, and I say cookie cutters are for cookies, not people.”
To further drive home the important role Aboriginal people can and should play in the development of energy projects, Helin is proposing the creation of a First Nations Energy Corridor that covers traditional territories in British Columbia and Alberta.
“We should be real partners in all of these projects. The fact that we have been here for so long needs to be recognized in agreements at all levels,” he said, adding that First Nations would need real consultation, a significant equity ownership stake in projects, environmental input and monitoring capability and ownership equity in companies constructing and servicing the projects.
“I think once First Nations become real players it is a benefit to everyone because it creates stability.”
More specifically, the Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings will facilitate things such as business negotiation and consultation related to energy projects, ownership stakes in the projects, funding, business development and training and safety for community members.
To help get the company off the ground Helin has secured a financial partnership with Aquilini Investments, a group that owns such notable entities as the Vancouver Canucks.
“With Aquilini as financial partners. we can finance anything,” he said.